Why The Fax Machine Still Rules In Japan
More than 1.7 million were sold last year alone, revealing an aging culture's devotion to tradition and a technological lag behind other developed countries.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
While some of the world's most advanced technology can be found in Japan, one pre-Internet item -- the fax machine -- doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Indeed, more than 1.7 million machines were purchased last year alone, with a small rise in sales taking place right after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami washed some machines away. Many businesses prefer communicating by fax in order to create paper trails and provide customers with a sense of personal connection and security that they say e-mail doesn't offer.
What's the Big Idea?
Japan's complex written language and the late introduction of suitable computer keyboards make older citizens in particular more comfortable with faxes. Unlike other developed countries, the elderly make up a considerable portion of the population, and this has forced businesses to cope with increased inefficiency as a result. However, the growing technological divide between generations has motivated at least one company, telephone giant NTT, to bridge that gap by enabling the sending of fax messages to smartphones as e-mail attachments.
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